I watched “American Idol” on TV last night, as I have been wont to do over the past few months. The show is glitzy, its primary goal is money, much of the hype is nothing more than just hype, and I can’t help but think that some parts of it are orchestrated and tuned to lead to a conclusion that’s desired by the producers of the series. But the kids who appear on the show often steal my heart. I can’t help it. I think my feelings are caused by a combination of empathy, sympathy, and the distinct feeling I get while watching them perform that I am up there too, my lungs bursting and my odds of garnering phone calls rising and falling with each note I nail or fail, with each move I make, and with each encounter with the judges. Going through such stress is hard on me. It’s taking its toll. In a few weeks it will be over, however, and we’ll have yet one more American Idol. Then I can get back to my average, boring existence. And the American Idol can begin a new life. I wish the Idol luck, and hope whoever it is realizes I played a role, albeit small, in the attainment of their astonishing goal.
Sometimes it’s difficult to pick a favorite performer. Some of them are more polished and more talented than others, but the ones who are less talented often try harder. I sometimes have difficulty determining why I like one contestant over another. Did I base my decision on talent alone, or did I allow my admiration for someone’s determination and desire to sway my opinion?
In the end, my opinion matters little. My judgment is based on the prejudice of a Baby Boomer American, with preconceived notions about singing, performing, and entertainment. I don’t know what percentage of the total vote is made up of people in my age group, but my guess is that we’re in the minority. That’s probably good. The twenty-somethings who compete on the show are better off being judged by peers having similar standards. But that won’t keep me from getting wrapped up in the show, and being overwhelmed with emotions watching the kids try so hard to please the judges on the panel and all across America.
Knowing how I would feel on stage makes watching them painful at times. I guess that’s the attraction of the show for me. I experience, in some small way, the same emotions as the contestants and never have to leave my home. Instead of the American Idol, I will be the American Idle.